Retiro lo dicho

When you’re first learning a language, you struggle for a long time just to get words out there. So much time is spent on learning new words and practicing recalling them when you need them that making a fuss about the final result largely seems like a luxury. Sure, you’ll say the wrong thing sometimes and then do a quick verbal switcheroo, but it takes a while to get to the point where you wish to unsay whole sentences you once worked so hard to construct. And not because they’re incorrect but rather because you wish to strike what you’ve just said from the record. How do you do a real life control-Z in Spanish? How do you eat your words in Spanish? It’s really simple.

Retiro lo dicho.

I take it back. This is a very useful phrase that you can interject into your conversations, both formal and informal. Retirar can mean many things, but it doesn’t usually mean to retire; it means to withdraw or take back, to take away or remove, to pull back or draw back. I remember first learning it in restaurants when waitresses would ask permission to clear plates and silverware after I was done eating. ¿Puedo retirar? they’d ask. Or they’d say, ¿Le retiro? It took me a while to catch on. When I learned retirar lo dicho down the road, I had an aha moment. Oh, so just like the waitress takes back the restaurant’s plates, you take back what was said. I can visualize the same motion in both: she sticks out her arm and pulls the plates back in to her; you stick out your hand and try to cram your inopportune words back into your mouth. Lo dicho means that which is/was said.

Retiro lo dicho en unas entradas atrás sobre el vegetarianismo. Hoy conocí a un vegetariano que me convenció de que no es una locura como yo lo creía. 

I take back what I said a few posts back about vegetarianism. Today I met a vegetarian who convinced me that it’s not as crazy as I used to think it was.

¿Así que no es que ella sea irresponsable sino que anda muy ocupada? Bueno, bueno, retiro lo dicho entonces.

So, she’s not irresponsible, just really busy? Fine, fine, I take it back then.

retiro lo dicho comic

And if you want to tell someone to take it back, just make it a command.

¡Retira lo dicho! ¡Retira lo dicho ahora mismo o te vas a pata a la casa!

Take it back! Take it back right now or you can just get out and walk home!

-¿Cómo me dijiste? Retira lo dicho ahora, cretino miserable.
-Bueno, bueno. Tu cara no se parece a tu trasero.

So, what am I taking back? Oh, goodness. What don’t I take back? I’d like to take back so many things I’ve said in my life–so many things said, written, blogged, etc. As well as things unsaid. But what inspired this post is a retraction of words that isn’t very dramatic. I’ll blog about it in my next post.


9 responses to “Retiro lo dicho

  1. jaja te vas a pata.

    Ok, when people ask me, “¿puedo retirar?” I’ve gotten into a habit of responding, “sí, gracias, se lo regalo.”

    And then I remember that feeling of when I was little and my dad would try out casual English expressions on people, and I’d be annoyed because it was the wrong context or wrong register or wrong somehow, like when he’s say “it’s the same difference” and my skin would crawl.

    So in other words, I’ve become my father.


    • Hehe. Yes, I am frequently surreptitiously trying out words and phrases on people, trying to see if I get a reaction, an eyebrow raise, a head tilt, a funny look. My goal is for nothing to happen, but then I really want to ask DID THAT SOUND OK? DID I SAY IT RIGHT? But I really try not to use friends (ie, normal people) as language teachers. It’s not fair, and it gets old. Just because it’s my obsession doesn’t mean other people want to talk about this minutia day in and day out! :)


  2. So many times I have wanted to retirar lo dicho. Pero lo dicho, dicho está. Y con esto, yo me retiro (tomorrow I am heading for Bogotá :) )


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  4. Entre muchas otras, quisiera retirar los dicho aquella vez cuando le pregunté a alguien en US si sabia donde había un automatic cashier, en vez de un ATM. ¿Por qué es un teller? ¿Qué pensarías si te pregunto dónde está el automatic cashier? ¿Entenderías?
    También quisiera retirar lo dicho cuando mencioné que quería take the sun en la tarde. Uno no toma muchos baños de sol en español. Esa vez se me rieron en la cara. Pero me gusta el concepto, bañarte de sol, como bañarte con agua.
    Como siempre, disfruté leerte.


    • Hola Grillo,

      Claro que te entendería si me dijeras “automatic cashier”, pero si no supiera español no sé… de pronto si fuera obvio por el contexto. Nosotros estamos tan acostumbrados a poder decir esas siglas tan corticas (ATM) que nos resulta un tanto molesto tener que decir el “trabalenguas” de cajero automático.

      Y sí, he escuchado a varios hispanohablantes decir “take the sun”, así que no te sientas mal. Bueno, seguro que ya te diste cuenta, pero por lo menos desde mi experiencia, tampoco se dice “to sunbathe” hoy en día. A mí se me hace muy antiguo. Yo siempre digo y escucho “to lie out” o “to tan” si el objetivo es broncearse. Lástima porque a mí también me gusta la idea de una tina llena de sol :)

      Me alegra mucho que hayas disfrutado leerme desde “siempre” y espero que ese siempre siga por mucho más tiempo. ¡Un abrazo!


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